Devan Woolley finishes storied career with Blues Soccer
Capilano University and Blues soccer almost didn’t happen for Devan Woolley.
This season, the business administration student and respected captain saw his five-year run with the Blues come to an end with a second straight provincial gold medal and a national bronze medal. Looking back at his storied career, Woolley admits that his fascination for California, particularly Santa Barbara, almost changed the course of his post-secondary life. “I love Santa Barbara and I know they’ve got a school down there with a great soccer team,” he said. Ultimately, doubts about going away kept him in North Vancouver, and led him to becoming one of CapU’s standout students. “I didn’t think I was ready to leave home. I was nervous, I wasn’t sure if I would make the team and all that, so I kept it safe, came to Cap and ended up loving it,” he added.
Like most of the Blues student-athletes, Woolley has a lengthy history with his respective sport. He started playing soccer at five years old, along with the neighbourhood kids he wound up growing up with. In his adolescent years, his interest in other sports such as hockey, badminton and basketball kept him playing gold-level soccer, despite qualifying, year in and year out, for metro league teams. Ultimately, his choice was left between soccer and hockey, and his relative success in youth soccer drove him to attending CapU, knowing full well of its historic soccer program.
Woolley has been one of the most respected and recognizable players on the team over the past two years, but this wasn’t always apparent in his early days. In fact, he didn’t even know if he was going to make the cut. “I was super nervous and I really didn’t know the coaches very well,” he said. “I just really couldn’t get a reading, whether I was on the team, or on the brink. Paul [Dailly] told me I was on the bubble and he needed to see more from me.”
Despite the uncertainty that surrounded the start of his career, it was either in the fourth or fifth game of his rookie year when Woolley finally saw of the greatest votes of confidence he’s had over the past five years – a moment that he deems to be his favourite. It was his first ever game as a starter and Dailly slotted him as a striker, a position that is almost completely foreign for the defensive-minded centre-back. “Paul started me as striker, which was totally new for me but he said that I had earned it with my hard work in practice,” he recalled. “I still remember I couldn’t get the grin off my face all the way down to the Cap field from the locker room for warm up.”
Although Woolley has been instrumental in reclaiming the championship days that had eluded the Blues during his first three years, his greater impact on the team and the entire Athletics Department might not be dictated by his play on the pitch, but by the way he carried himself outside of it.
Woolley has been a routine recipient of the prestigious Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) National Scholar Award, an honour reserved for student-athletes who also accomplish outstanding achievements in academics. Moreover, Woolley’s contribution to the culture that envelops the men’s soccer team, and the program, is undeniable. “Devan has been the heart and soul of this team since I started playing for Cap,” said third year goalkeeper Hudson Nelles. “It can’t be put into words on how much Devan has done for this team, myself and this program… truly the greatest captain, friend and brother I have ever had the pleasure of playing with.”
Humble as always, Woolley concedes that he wishes he could have done more for the Blues. “I wish I could have had more of an impact on the athletics program as far as school support and getting people out to games, whether that be through promoting or working with the athletic department or whatever.”
Collegiate athletics isn’t the only chapter that will be ending for Woolley. Although he will still be competing in the West Vancouver Men’s Soccer League, he doesn’t see himself striving for a higher level of athletic play. “I think I’m content with where I’m at right now,” he said. “I’m happy, university I think has probably been my top of my game, premier is still a super high level, but I’m not going to strive for anything higher.”
The “athlete” part of Woolley’s life as a student-athlete may be coming to an end, but everything else will go on. For now, he’s focused on finishing his studies and putting his eventual business degree to work.
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